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Beaucaire is a barber for the Royal French court who becomes a real "royal pain" for the king. As a result he is sent to the guillotine - however he is saved by the Duc de Chandre, who rescues and transports him to the Spanish court. While there Beaucaire poses as a noblesman. The only problem is, he gets into even more trouble. Written by
Very funny, albeit the plot has scant resemblance to the original.
A "costume comedy" of the sort occasionally essayed by Bob Hope, this "version" of the Booth Tarkington novel is meant as a pastiche of the 1924 Rudolph Valentino film, but the one-liner master extraordinaire and his favourite scriptors, Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, can not resist going their own way, and a comically winning tangent it is. Splendidly directed by George Marshall, with top-flight cinematography and editing by Lionel Lindon and Arthur Schmidt, respectively, the action unfolds in the royal courts of 18th century France and Spain, nations on the verge of war. As the barber for King Louis XV (Reginald Owen), Beaucaire (Hope) finds himself in a situation where he must impersonate a nobleman, the Duc Le Chandre, or lose his head, whereas in the Tarkington original his impersonation is clearly of his own choosing. Meantime, in Madrid, conniving Don Francisco, commander-in-chief of the Spanish army, desires to prevent the upcoming marriage of the actual Le Chandre (Patric Knowles) with Spanish Princess Maria (Margaret Lindsay), by assassination if necessary, in order to destabilize the crown, leading to armed hostilities between the neighbouring countries and an opportunity for him to organize a coup. The false Duke, Beaucaire, becomes the prospective victim of this homicidal chicanery and we view him at his wedding ceremony where desperate measures must be taken to avoid being captured and then killed in quick succession. Hope's gags are beyond counting, some of them quite funny and all featuring his perfect timing, and a scene at the Spanish court that satirizes the use of the lorgnette by the nobility is classic, while there is pulchritude galore with three excellent actresses: Joan Caulfield as Beaucaire's true love Mimi, Hillary Brooke as Mme. Pompadour, and the lovely Lindsay, given her first role since Paramount picked up her contract. Also to be commended for their sharp performances in this fast-moving frolic are the swashbuckling Knowles, Schildkraut, Owen, Cecil Kellaway and Constance Collier, while Hope is supported for the first time by songs from Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, contributors to 11 subsequent films by the comedian, whose work here was Woody Allen's inspiration for the latter's LOVE AND DEATH.
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